Sunday, May 10, 2009

New trek

So, Star Trek, eh?

Look, I seriously don't know what's in the water that makes everybody so excited over J.J. Abrams. Seriously, everyone "Oohed and Ahed" over the trailers for this new movie and I was, hard as I tried, unable to find anything at all that seemed anything better or worse than "fine".

Yes, above and beyond my skepticism.


It's like everyone else's trailer came with an hallucinogenic implant. I thought it looked... fine. It's a little dull and mediocre.

It can't just be skepticism. I saw the trailer for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which I'm pretty close to positive will suck, and thought "Ooh, cool!", and had to stop myself from imagining up some optimism.

So, it's can't just be my skepticism. I have no explanation beyond the hallucinogenic implants.

So, did I like the movie? I liked it better than I liked the trailer, but it suffers the same kind of never being much better than "fine".

I keep not finding the energy to review it in full, but I agree with most of The Next Frontier by Marty McKee and The franchise on the edge of forever by Roger Ebert (whose recent Go gentle into that good night is remarkable and should be read by everyone).

I will add, since no one else seems to, Uhura had awesome fake eyelashes.

**super swoon**

And nothing in Abram's direction added anything positive. The set design is nice. It's more successful than the look of Enterprise at evoking a future of today while still looking like it could be before the original "Star Trek".

But not only is the shooting unimaginative, as Marty noted, but the action sequences are very poorly staged and uninvolving.

Look, moviemakers, I'm telling you, watch Paul W.S. Anderson! His movies don't ever quite work, because he doesn't do anything else very well, but he's been a very successful director in Hollywood because the one thing he does do is stage action like a master.

So, yeah, I would have been disappointed if I'd broken my 20 year streak of seeing Star Trek movies in a theater and caught this one on DVD. It's solidly decent. If it were the pilot for a new series, I'd be watching. It would, in fact, be the best pilot for a "Star Trek" series since The Cage... Yes, that'd make it better than Where No Man Has Gone Before. So?

UPDATE: Other worthwhile thoughts: Why the Enterprise matters (and the rest is anti-matter) by Jim Emerson and Go Boldly, or Go Home: The Vanity Mirror Universe of Star Trek (2009) by Chris Stangl.

And allow me to emphasize, for my own benefit as much as anyone else's, I did enjoy the movie, frankly more than I expected to. I'm struggling hard to understand the flow of unreserved affection this movie seems to be receiving, but I'm likewise struggling not to begrudge it.

UPDATE II: Star Trek: A Contrarian Viewpoint takes a more negative approach than matches my own feelings, but makes a lot of points that really do deserve a hearing among the bland and unanimous praise that seems to have mysteriously greeted this rather ordinary little adventure.


Tony Dayoub said...

I think the hallucinogenic implant actually came with your Paul W. S. Anderson movies... except for Event Horizon. I do like that one.

Neil Sarver said...

I said that his movies "don't ever quite work" and I stand by that, but I'll stand even stronger behind the fact that he's one of the few action directors working this days who actually know how to stage, choreograph, shoot and edit action so that it has clarity, energy and tension. Most people, and certainly Abrams here, can't get any one of those things in there.

Nomad said...

i was so impressed by this new Star Trek, from character development to action effects to the fluidity of the plot... IMO this is the best Star Trek ever

Neil Sarver said...

Compared to the whole coming to terms with mortality in The Wrath of Khan, you're finding "Be nice to the Jew because he might turn out to your best friend" a major improvement?

This is going to be another one of those movies that I find "ok" or "pretty good" that I'm going to like less and less as the bukkake circle forms around to pay homage, isn't it?

Fuck! Maybe I should have broken the streak!

I'm sorry. I'll avoid being snarky. I am glad that you, and others, enjoyed the movie.

I've gotta say, though. I understand what you meant by "character development", even if I disagree. I see that there was character development and I know what character development is. I thought this was basically the same rote "Oh, crap! This Syd Field book says we've got to have character development, how can we squeeze it in?!" character development that Hollywood does most of the time now.

On the other hand, I have no idea what "fluidity of the plot" means. It frankly sounds like a contradiction in terms, but then even if I make it "fluidity of the story", it still sounds like one of those terms thrown out by alternative press critics straight out of college that sounds meaningful, but I make no actual human sense of, shake my head and try to remember to skip the review section next time I read.

Fuck! My ability to hold back the snark is really low. But I am being honest in neither sharing nor entirely understanding what you found so appealing in any of this.

Marty McKee said...

I'm curious to know how we disagree in our assessments of STAR TREK.

I'm with you in that I'm baffled with all the geek love for Abrams. LOST is pretty terrible (or was when I was watching it), FELICITY surely isn't my bag, his SUPERMAN script is worse than the worst script written for the 50s TV series, and M:I 3 seems to have been an abomination. So what's the big deal with the guy? I never concurred with the Joss Whedon cult either, but I can at least understand it.

I saw every TREK film theatrically except INSURRECTION, which I still haven't seen. I wish I had now, so that I could keep the streak going.

Neil Sarver said...

Ah, I gave one of those politician "most of" modifiers that I do sometimes.

Well, that was, it turns out, bullshit. I went back to see if there was something I might reasonably have been thinking of, consciously or unconsciously, when I wrote that. And I can safely say I agree with everything you wrote on it.

In comments, I like Joss Whedon more than you do, and I have not read J.J. Abrams' Superman script.

(For those of you out of the loop, here's a review of said script. Lordy!)

So, I'm sorry for my half-assedness.

Although, if you did like Ben Cross as Sarek and just haven't mentioned it, I disagree with that. I thought he stunk mightily. I have no strong feelings on Winona Ryder as Lady Amanda. I would never have cast her, but she was... there and breathing, speaking her lines, etc.

But, of course, that's more just a cheap ploy to bring up a couple of other things I'd not bothered to mention before.

Especially as it's comforting to know I'm not alone in the world on this movie. I may need to hold on to that feeling in coming days if it's anything like The Dark Knight, and I am getting that same feeling in the air.

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